LAHORE/MULTAN: Already in operational and financial throes, Pakistan Railways faced an embarrassing situation on Wednesday when seven coaches of the Rawalpindi-bound Pakistan Express got detached from other rakes near Faridabad, some three kilometers from Khanewal station.
A railway official said when the train reached near Faridabad at about 9:30am, the coupling joining the coaches No-3 and 4 broke suddenly, leaving the running train divided into two parts. “Though such incidents happen rarely, they lead to causing operational issues on the track,” he added, seeking anonymity.
As soon as the coupling broke, the automatic brakes stopped both the separated rakes gradually. Later, the crew, after inspecting the detached rakes, reversed the locomotive and reattached them by clipping them together with the help of screws and fixing the buffers. “It took 45 minutes or so [to reattach the rakes] and finally the train restarted its journey. The passengers also suffered because of this incident,” the official claimed.
Sudden breaking of joining rod cited
However, according to sources, the process took more than two and a half hours after which the train that was already late by four hours resumed its journey.
As per witnesses, the jolt was so sudden that many passengers in the affected coaches fell down from their seats when the joining rod of the train broke. However, no one got hurt.
On the other hand, a large number of passengers suffered because of the frequent delay in arrival and departure of the trains. According to an official, though the situation had been worsening gradually, the PR had no instant solution to the issue.
“Frankly, the PR has been facing an acute shortage of passenger coaches since long. Though it plans to import more than 225 new coaches from abroad, it has yet to finalise the bidding process,” the official told Dawn.
“But it is surprising why the PR, which badly needs new coaches, consumed all the available ones, which were supposed to be additional rakes for several express trains, for running new trains. So this led to disturbance in the operation, as the PR has no additional rakes now to ensure punctuality in case of any emergent situation.
The officials mentioned derailments, accidents, deteriorated condition of the track, severe shortage of staff and expansion of the track among the reasons behind disruption in the PR operations.
“The [railway] minister had announced earlier that he won’t ask for running more passenger trains after the launch of Sir Syed Express because of shortage of coaches. But, he has recently announced launching of another train — Mianwali Express (Lahore—Mianwali--Lahore) from July 19, reportedly on the orders of the prime minister,” he said.
The official said the PR admin should focus on real issues facing the organisation instead of planning launches of new trains. “The situation is problematic for the PR,” he warned.
Published in Dawn, July 11th, 2019